A Preview of the Patriots and the 2019 NFL Draft
Foxborough, MA– Last off-season, the New England Patriots were hemorrhaging players in free agency, including receivers like Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, rushers like Dion Lewis, and secondary defenders like Malcolm Butler. On the outside looking in, the team was in chaos, but it ultimately did not matter, as the Patriots marched all the way to another Super Bowl victory in that season.
One of the ways they achieved that was by having a very solid draft in 2018, including the selection of Sony Michel, a running back who grew into his own. This year, the Patriots have done a better job of retaining certain free agents, but they still lost a number of key figures, chief among them being defensive stalwart Trey Flowers.
In addition to the gaping hole Flowers leaves on the defense, New England is severely depleted in terms of their corps of wide receivers. And they could also use some help on the offensive line. That said, with the NFL Draft coming this Thursday, we will soon learn which needs Bill Belichick and the Patriots feel are most pressing and in instant need of being addressed.
The Patriots will obviously be drafting late in the rounds, but they also have the most picks in the draft with 12, which ties them with the New York Giants. They first pick thirty-second and then have two picks in round two, three in round three, and so on until the end of the draft.
I think the first void the Patriots should fill is the one left by Flowers. An immense defensive talent would be a savvy move for the team, and players like L.J. Collier (TCU), Dre'Mont Jones (Ohio State), and Dexter Lawrence (Clemson) might all be available at this first turn for New England. Each of them seems like a classic late round Belichick pick that could blossom into a key player.
If the Patriots want to fill a receiver void and potentially find a new tight end to accompany Austin Seferian-Jenkins in replacing Rob Gronkowski, then available targets at the moment could include Noah Fant (Iowa) and Irv Smith, Jr. (Alabama). Obviously, Alabama pedigrees speak volumes about football talent, but it might be impossible to replace Gronk altogether.
If they don't even bother trying to replace Gronk, the Patriots may instead try to begin a new succession plan at quarterback for Tom Brady. With some of the league's most talented quarterback coaches, any passer could become a key Patriot, even if they are picked in later rounds. This could mean Drew Lock (Missouri), Daniel Jones (Duke), or even Will Grier (West Virginia).
The draft begins on April 25 ... tune in later this week for news on the Patriots' draft picks!